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Thread: First Post ... Newbie on the Road

  1. #1

    Question First Post ... Newbie on the Road

    Hi all. This is my first post, so for starters, thanks for hosting this great forum. I have no playing experience. Itís just been something Iíve wanted to pick up for a long time and Iíd dropped a few hints along the way. That resulted in my dad getting me a new Eastman MD350 this week as a sort of late retirement gift. What a guy!

    I checked out my local community for lessons and found someone. Heís Greek and specializes in bouzouki, but heís an expert in many other strings, including mandolin. Hereís my question for the board: I often work out of state and Iím heading out of town on Monday for a month. I wonít even have a chance to meet or speak with my potential instructor until I get back in November. But, I can bring my mandolin and Iíll have time to play with it. What can/should I do to start my learning journey? I literally have no music playing experience since trombone in middle school, but Iím eager to start learning. I was thinking I could start learning simple stuff like notes, scales or whatever. All Iíve done so far is watch a few YouTube videos on things like how to hold the instrument and stuff (MandoLessons channel).

    Thanks for the feedback and suggestions!

  2. #2
    Registered User treidm's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2004

    Default Re: First Post ... Newbie on the Road

    Congratulations! Welcome to Cafe!

    This should be a wonderful journey & experience for you!

    You might think of purchasing a few books, to take with you
    Maybe one that covers some of the theory, scales and such
    Then maybe another one of chord shapes

    Get a good tuner like a Snark ST-8, a string winder
    Get some new strings
    Get instructions on changing strings, if you will do it yourself
    Be careful on bridge position. You can change strings a pair at a time so the others hold bridge in place until you learn placement later

    Good luck and enjoy!
    , Reid
    2011 Black A5 (#9) Mandolin
    1952 Gibson A-40N Mandolin
    1924 Gibson TB-1 Trapdoor Tenor Banjo
    1975 Gibson MK-35 Hybrid Braced Dreadnought Guitar
    1993 Washburn M3 SW/TS F-Style Mandolin
    2004 Martin D-16 GT Dreadnought Guitar
    2006 Martin DC-16RGTE AURA Dreadnought Guitar
    1997 Seagull S6 Dreadnought Guitar
    1970's Kay KB-52 5-String Banjo
    1960's Pirles 4-String Tenor Banjo

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  4. #3

    Default Re: First Post ... Newbie on the Road

    Continue with It's a great resource. Mandolin for Dummies is a good book with a lot of information on musical styles and a host of other things. You have a good instrument to start with.

    I started playing scales and scale exercises and was wondering why until it dawned on me how quickly I was picking up on fiddle tunes. Get a metronome and practice with it.

    There are a bunch of $25/mo. lesson sites too.

    When playing scales, use the scales to practice pick technique too. You will find a sweet spot close to the neck that sounds best. Pay attention to picking in that spot. And also try to have your up and down strokes even and sounding uniform.

    Listen to a lot of different styles and find the direction you want to go.
    Silverangel A
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    Arches F style kit
    1913 Gibson A-1

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  6. #4

    Default Re: First Post ... Newbie on the Road

    Thank you Reid. On some of the things you mentioned ...
    • A Snark SN-5X tuner was included. Is the ST-8 a better option? It's brand new in box, so I might be able to trade if so.
    • Do you recommended new strings because factory ones are poor? A set of Martin & Co. M400 "80/20 Bronze" strings were included. Maybe it was with a thought to change out the factory ones. Are the M400's a good option?
    • Also came with a variety pack of plastic picks. Not sure where to start with those. I read a few posts on the forum that suggest getting a nicer pick would be wise. Ideas?
    • I think I'll want a strap ...

    Thanks to you and the others on other resources, books, and websites.

  7. #5

    Default Re: First Post ... Newbie on the Road

    A saw the Mando for Dummies book has a companion book by the same author, Mandoline Exercises for Dummies. I think I'll just start with the first for my road trip, plus my dad's sending along some additional books too. Have you seen/used the exercises book?

  8. #6
    Registered User Mike Arakelian's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2013
    Eastern N.C.

    Default Re: First Post ... Newbie on the Road

    Invest a few dollars in Mandolin For Dummies. You’ll find lots of good information about any number of things mandolin. It will give you some good things to work on before you start your lessons, and will help you avoid starting any bad habits. Good luck, have fun, and welcome to the Cafe!
    2007 Sumi F-5 Deluxe
    1991 Flatiron Performer A
    Martin D-35

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  10. #7
    Registered User Randi Gormley's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2008
    Connecticut, USA

    Default Re: First Post ... Newbie on the Road

    Whatever tuner you have is fine; i think the suggestion was more that you HAVE a tuner than you have a specific tuner ... same with strings. Generally, the strings an instrument comes with aren't optimal -- no idea how long they've been on, what the conditions were like where the instrument was stored, that kind of thing -- so new strings are just good policy. Martins are perfectly good strings and M400s appear to be light weight, which will be easier to play until you develop callouses. Picks are one of those things that evolve. Starting with a range of pick size, thicknesses, stiffnesses is good policy until you get used to holding them and see what you like and what sounds best on your instrument. it's all good.

    Owning something doesn't mean you have to keep it forever, by the way. You can always change strings, tuners, straps and picks. no one will even comment. we're all looking for what works best for us and our playing -- so welcome to the cafe and to this wild trip!
    1920 Lyon & Healy bowlback
    1923 Gibson A-1 snakehead
    1952 Strad-o-lin
    1983 Giannini ABSM1 bandolim
    2009 Giannini GBSM3 bandolim
    2011 Eastman MD305

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  12. #8

    Default Re: First Post ... Newbie on the Road

    Welcome, Anthony!

    All good suggestions above. In addition:

    - Learn the G, C, and D chords. They'll allow you to play thousands (literally!) of songs in G, the Good key.

    - Watch this short video: Mike Marshall

    I wouldn't worry about changing the strings. You'll have plenty of time to do that once you've started taking lessons - and it's easier when someone shows you how in person.

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  14. #9
    Registered User
    Join Date
    May 2013
    Jackson, CA

    Default Re: First Post ... Newbie on the Road

    Good for you and welcome,

    If your mandolin sounds overly bright or tinny, it could be the 80/20 Bronze strings as they are brighter than the standard Phosphor Bronze strings. So if needed, try switching to PB strings and see how that sounds. If on the other hand you think it sounds quite good, remember to buy 80/20s again. Good luck and blessings.

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